Materialists employ the same dodges to rational argument over and over. It is really tiresome to have to read the dodges in full time and again. Therefore, as a service to the materialists who post on this site, UD is developing a list of materialist dodges. Instead of having to type your dodge out every time, to save time and effort, our materialist friends should feel free to cite their dodges by number. For example, instead of writing out some tedious version of “I have no answer for why materialism is not logically incoherent. Instead, I will poke fun at caricatures of dualism” you can just cite “MD1” (for “Materialist Dodge 1”). We will add to the list as the dodges accumulate.
Materialist Dodge 1: Mock dualism
If you reject materialism that must mean you believe in a homunculus in your head pulling levers just like that little guy sitting in the head of the corpse in the autopsy scene in Men in Black. If not that, you probably believe a ghost resides in your pineal gland. Never mind that dualism entails neither of these things; I’ve got to make my rhetorical hay while the sun is shining. I certainly can’t let the conversation come back around to the logical incoherence of materialism.
Materialist Dodge 2: Allude to all those books out there
A lot of people have written a lot of books kind of generally about this subject. Yes, you should accept my mere reference to those books as an argument. Of course I will not deign to quote those books or even summarize their argument. If you don’t understand why my mere reference to books I’ve read not only supports my position but absolutely clinches it beyond the slightest doubt, it is because you are an ignorant fundie. And I have better things to do with my time than educate invincibly ignorant fundies.
Materialist Dodge 3: The many meanings distraction
Well, you say “materialist” as if that word has a single meaning. There are lots of materialists, and they don’t all believe the same thing. Therefore, I don’t have to answer your objections to materialism.
Materialist Dodge 4: Issue a promissory note
I have no response to why materialism is not logically incoherent. But, you know, a long time ago people thought some pretty silly things were true (flat earth anyone?). Today’s flat earther are those who don’t accept materialism. Never mind that science has actually established that the earth is round and it has not (and in principle cannot) establish that materialism is true. We are making great progress with our MRIs and suchlike. So I hope you will accept my materialist promissory note. I’ve got no intellectual currency now, but I am confident someone, somewhere, sometime in the future (next year, next century, next millennium) will be able to pay the note in full (with interest!).
Materialist Dodge 5: Invoke magic as an explanation
Subjective self-awareness is an emergent property of the central nervous system. There is some supervening going on in there too, of course. Atheist Thomas Nagel was just wrong when he said that an explanation must be systematic. I can just invoke some supposed brute fact like “emergent” as if that is an explanation rather than something that calls for an explanation. Nagel was also wrong when he compared doing that to saying “It’s magic!”
Materialist Dodge 6: The Humpty Dumpty gambit
The dualistic sense of the words you use is so passe. Never mind that that is what those words actually mean when English speakers use them. We materialists get to use words any way that suits us; we’ve been freed from adherence to the linguistic conventions of English speakers. It is not our fault if that obscures our meaning and results in confusion; it is you ignorant fundies’ fault for failing to keep up. Oh, we can also slip back and forth between conventional and esoteric word meaning without telling you. So, when I say “beliefs” are real. That is not inconsistent with saying “beliefs” are an illusion. And when you catch my equivocating between the conventional and esoteric use of words, like that I’ll just accuse you of not being able to accept the findings of science.
Materialist Dodge 7: False claim about what science has demonstrated
Science has demonstrated that subjective self-awareness is an illusion. Therefore, if you point to the existence of subjective self-awareness in an attack on materialism, it just means you are a frightened fundamentalist rube fighting the advances of science like those guys who burned Galileo at the stake. Don’t ask me to show you the scientific experiment that proved subjective self-awareness is an illusion. I have better things to do with my time than educate invincibly ignorant fundies.
Materialist Dodge 8: You Want The Truth! You Can’t Handle the Truth!
You are unable to process the fact that science has proven materialism to be true, because an ignorant, benighted fundamentalist with aspirations of imposing a theocracy can’t handle the truth. Like a bug running away when the rock is turned over, you wiggle and squirm under the unrelenting glare of Science. Don’t ask me to show you the scientific experiment that demonstrated the truth of materialism. I have better things to do with my time than educate invincibly ignorant fundies.
Materialist Dodge 9: Drop the “superstition” bomb
Your dualist belief is superstitious nonsense. Why, yes, that assertion is my argument. It makes no difference that I have not demonstrated your belief to be false (much less superstitious) and it makes no difference that my materialist beliefs are logically incoherent. My mere assertion that a belief is superstitious settles the matter.
Materialist Dodge 10: Materialists are better people
I don’t have to give you a response defending the logical coherence of materialism. All I have to do is point out that only emotionally unstable people, like you for instance, need to lean on the crutch of superstitious dualism. We materialists have the emotional maturity to be perfectly happy without it. Yes, that is my argument. Stop looking at me like that.
Materialist Dodge 11: The burden is always on you, never on me
It makes not the slightest bit of difference that subjective self-awareness is the “primordial datum,” that everyone knows is a fact beyond the slightest doubt. It makes no difference that we are presupposing the existence of subjective self-awareness by even having this discussion. Unless you can give me a systematic account for how the immaterial interacts with the material, I do not have to explain why materialism is not logically incoherent.
Materialist Dodge 12: You are motivated to believe by your sub-rational desires; but not I
I don’t have to defend the logical coherence of materialism. All I have to do is point out that anyone who rejects materialism is motivated by sub-rational desires, like the desire for meaning in the universe. Why, yes, we materialists are exempt from this criticism; we have superpowers, one of which is to step outside of ourselves as we think about metaphysics.